Untangling the Messes: How Much Truth to Put in the Memoir?

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” ― Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

yarn tangled and in a neat ball

Near-death motorcycle accident at 17, cervical cancer diagnosed at 19, hysterectomy at 23, drug addict by age 30; does any of that sound familiar? Probably not, and so I’d lose readers before they even picked up the book.

Memoir must contain more than the events or even the highlights of that life; there has to be similarities in the readers’ lives in order to touch them and keep them reading.

This is where each writer finds their theme -that distinct, but unifying idea of the writing, because universal themes transcend gender, age, and race.

“It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives…

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, how do you keep finding such excellent and informative posts, Lynette?! Thank you for sharing this.

    1. This one is a gem! Actually, I found this one in my in box as I was going through some old emails this morning. It had apparently been there for a couple of weeks before I “discovered” it.

  2. Marilyn L. Davis

    Hi, Lynette; thank you for sharing my piece with your readers. Memoir is such personal writing and I find that even when I’m writing about the how-to and process for good memoir, I’m still exposing myself or snippets from my life. As such, your inclusion of my piece on your site feels supporting. Again, thanks.

  3. I know, Lady Quixote – I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. Lynette, you’re truly amazing! You must have a sixth sense about how to find the best blogs about memoir.

    1. Awe thanks. I try to read everything that I find about memoir. I’ve always loved to read memoir. Now I enjoy learning about the art of memoir writing too.

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